Bethesda’s Todd Howard has promised we’ll see all the “harshness and maturity” of the previous game in the series.

Howard stated that “slavery, children, drugs and addiction” will all be themes and that  narcotics abuse is to be a “key gameplay device”. Neither child killing or nudity are to be included, as they apparently added nothing in the way of “flavour” to the game.

"I think the heart of this question is, 'Has the harshness and maturity of the world of Fallout 3 been tempered from the earlier games?' And I can certainly say, 'No, it hasn't been,'" told Howard in an interview with a fan on Fallout 3’s official forum.

"You will not be able to be a child killer. There are several reasons for this, some of them are very basic, like we wouldn't be able to sell the game anywhere to anyone if the children could be killed. I'm not using that as a scapegoat. We never wanted the game to offer any incentive or desire to be blowing kids away. From our initial designs we didn't know how we were going to handle [what happened] if you shot them, we just knew it was going to be a big no-no...

"Anyway, when attacked, all children flee and any regular NPCs friendly to the children will instantly attack you, so it feels good in the game, in that there is an appropriate response," he said.

When discussing the good and evil choices present in Fallout 3 Howard seemed to be particularly proud of the options present.

"The grey area comes into several quests where the situation is just 'bad'. Some feel like no-win situations and they come across as 'make a hard choice'," said Howard. "I think that's where it feels best, honestly, but we do need to mix it up between that and simpler good or bad [decisions]."

Dialogue is set to be a major part of the gameplay in Fallout 3, players are often able to get the first word in during conversations and have a choice in how they set the tone.

"They are big," said Howard when discussing dialogue trees. "If you look at Fallout 1, it's deeper than that. To give you the scale, we have over 40,000 lines of dialogue, compared to a few thousand in Fallout 1."

Fallout 3 is a much-anticipated post-apocalyptic RPG set to come out this autumn.

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